The Bobcats are in an odd situation heading into the 2019-20 season. They lost eight players from last year's squad and established head coach Sean Hogan. That leaves some questions for the team to answer before the season starts.
Last year the Bobcats' season ended at the hands of league rival Iowa State. With the departure of such talented and experienced players from last year, Ohio will need to reload. Its now-departed players accounted for 57 goals last season, which totaled to 40% of the team's goals. Collectively, Ohio tied for 17th in the American Collegiate Hockey Association in goals scored in the regular season with 142 goals.
The good news for Ohio is that Gianni Evangelisti, Tyler Harkins and Jake Houston return this season.
All three players scored over 30 points in their junior seasons. Where the problem lies, however, is that six of the next seven top scorers from last year all graduated. The Bobcats are going to need some veteran players to step up or rely on talented freshman to breakthrough.
Tom Pokorney, a fifth-year senior, and Timmy Thurnau are two good candidates to help the offense. Both Pokorney and Thurnau had at least 15 points last season. Another player with the potential to get the offense flowing is freshman Nick Erker.
Erker scored two goals in the Green and White scrimmage, but more importantly, looked like he fit in with the more experienced Green team.
The last thing that will help the offense is the defense, specifically goalie Jimmy Thomas. He had a GAA of 1.86 last season and ranked in the top 10 in wins, save percentage and shutouts. The offense knows it can be aggressive with Thomas in net, and he can provide consistent protection if that aggressiveness gets out of hand.
The Freshman Effect
With 11 new faces this year, it’s hard to predict who will have a significant impact. The Green and White scrimmage proved a decent glimpse.
Not only did that glimpse show the potential freshman impact, but it could also have shown an added equation to the offense.
J.T. Schimizzi and Ryan Hastings had the only two goals for the White team. For the Bobcats to be successful this season, they will need offensive production out of their freshman.
A New System
Anytime a coaching change occurs, there's always a learning curve when it comes to a new system. Standing behind the bench this season will be Cole Bell. Bell comes to the Bobcats after spending two seasons at the University of Jamestown. Bell amassed a 44-29-2 record and appeared in the ACHA National Tournament both seasons.
"This system we are running now with coach Bell is a little more up-tempo and higher pace," Evangelisti said. "With that being said, a lot of this stuff we have seen before. Coach Bell has just little different variations, so the older guys are comfortable with the systems coach Bell brought in."